There appears to be no end of criticisms that can be directed at Tony Abbott and certainly of late that chorus of criticisms is becoming louder with Abbott refusing to answer questions on whether he has made payments to people smugglers. Some may remember that Abbott’s way of tackling carbon emissions was cash handouts to the big polluters.

This week two of those close to Abbott had their integrity once again called into question.

Kathy Jackson, the woman who Tony Abbott saw fit to sing the praises of on the floor of parliament has made yet another desperate bid to have the $1.4 Million matter against her thrown out of Federal Court. As those who have followed the case would be aware, this matter has been delayed for over a year now, and Kathy will be finally forced to stand trial on the 28th June, an eagerly anticipated trial indeed.

It should also be remembered that this is just the civil matter against Jackson. At present Victorian Police are still investigating Jacksons actions and many are expecting criminal charges to be laid after the civil matter is out of the way.

If criminal charges are laid against Jackson and she is found guilty than much of her wealth could be viewed as proceeds of crime.

Long before that happens though the long suffering members of Kathy Jackson’s former branch, a branch that has gone forward in leaps and bounds since her faction was voted out of power, members will be hoping some of their money can be retrieved via the Federal Court.

One thing is clear, those in the Jacksonville camp are not confident about the outcome of the Federal Court case that they have succeeded in delaying for around a year. If confidence were something that Jackson’s team were overflowing with, the matter would have been dealt with long ago, instead there have been breaches of court orders, dialing in a lawyer from what sounded like the beach complete with seagulls, admissions to luxury psychiatric facilities and failures to provide documentation.

However this week perhaps the greatest sign of impending doom from the Jackson camp has become known, and lo and behold it involves one of Tony Abbott’s appointee’s.

Michael Lawler the man Tony Abbott appointed as Vice President of Fair Work Australia, now Fair Work Commission, has once again entered the fray.

Michael Lawler is partner of self-proclaimed HSU blower Kathy Jackson, and it has emerged this week that Jackson has started the process of transferring her $1.8 Million property into Michael Lawler’s name, although the process has yet to be completed with attempts now being made through the courts to not allow this to happen.

Is there anyone else's name we can put the house in?

Is there anyone else’s name we can put the house in?

Michael Lawler is the man we have been repeatedly assured has had nothing to do with the HSU saga. Perhaps these assurances have come due to his convenient and close proximity to the Fair Work Australia investigation that was the basis for his partner Jackson’s self-proclaimed whistle-blower status over the media trial and public bloodlust for Craig Thomson who was eventually found not guilty of virtually every charge in court, with the only charges that stuck being for paltry amounts that had nothing to do with prostitution, brothels, pornography or any of the other unproven and wild allegations.

Abbott’s mate Lawler has seen his reputation being slowly torn asunder, with last weekends Australian detailing much of what regular readers here have known for a long time now. Details of the enormous amount of time off Lawler has been taking from his $430K taxpayer funded role at FWC, the ludicrous intervention in Federal Court proceedings on Jackson’s behalf, and even the snails pace that Lawler’s publicly funded hearing proceeded (a loose term in this instance) at.

Although claims were made that he has had nothing to do with the HSU matter, despite being the partner of a central figure, and being VP of the organization that kicked the whole matter off, these claims have proven to have a stench of deception about them. A stench of lies that must be all too familiar to the man who appointed him, Tony Abbott arguably the countries most notorious breaker of promises and promoter of his own strange and unique idea of gospel truth.

Early articles credited Lawler with starting Operation Carnarvon after allegedly calling to intimidate a HSU employee on Jackson’s behalf. Since then there have been court appearances, evidence emerging of the sharing of HSU and FWC computer equipment, a computer with a username Michael Lawler attempting to access the HSU computer network, verbally abusing MSM journalists in the lobby at the Trade Union Royal Commission, the sons who worked at the union over Xmas, his refusal to co-operate with the KPMG in it’s independent assessment of the condemned FWA investigation, and now he is seeking to have Jackson’s principle asset put into his name so that the Federal Court can’t force the properties sale and give the money back to members.

Nothing to see here

Friends leaving a bad taste in your mouth Tony? Image - Gary Ramage

Friends leaving a bad taste in your mouth Tony?
Image – Gary Ramage

In Michael Lawler we have a Tony Abbott appointed, taxpayer funded fat cat who based on reports in the Australian struggles to even show up for work, and clearly when he does his hearings proceed at a pace that makes glacial movement look like a high-octane drag race.

Despite all of this he still holds his role at FWC as nobody within parliament has moved to have him dismissed.

Surely in Joe Hockey’s world of lifters and leaners Lawler is one leaner that should be removed from suckling on the public teat.

With Abbott once again struggling In the polls maybe he will soon tire of being mentioned every time Lawler is mentioned and finally decide to remove this anchor from around his ankle.

It must be weighing a ton by now.



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10 thoughts on “Fairweather Friends – Tony Abbott’s Jacksonville mates attempts to shift the bucks

  1. Thanks for the update and summary, Peter. Fascinating/appalling reading.

    Every time I read one of these installments (and your reporting on the Slipper case), I think there’s a book in this. If journalists/authors are not beating your door down with proposals, they should be.

  2. Unbelievable, conflicts abound.
    Conflicts of Michael Lawler as VP at FWC vis a vis his partner’s conflict with the Union.
    Conflicts of Michael Lawler and his legal interventions for her whilst on tax payer leave.
    Conflicts of Michael Lawler and his dealings with The David Rofe matter, including buying a house in a demented man’s name he can subsequently rent next door to an asset he has been living in likely to be claimed by the HSU.
    Conflicts of Michael Lawler attempting to have transferred to him a property that may be regarded as proceeds of crime (fire sale anyone?)
    Conflicts of Michael Lawler and his relationship with the current PM, the man who appointed him and probably the only one who can deal with his position and poor function.

    The matter of Michael Lawler’s involvement in these affairs has surely reached a point where the FWC has been seriously tainted by his association, if we are ever to believe in the importance of separation of powers in this country.

  3. You have got it exactly right, Peter. It’s about time the mainstream journalists re-visited Thomson’s speech to parliament in April 2012. What the Murdoch Press ridiculed at the time is now being revealed as a series of facts.
    The Sydney Herald still persists in using its cliches – to describe Thomson as “disgraced”, and to describe Jackson as a “whistlebower”. The paper appears to be run by ideological fossils ,fixed solid in the remote dinosaur past.
    Le’s hope Jackson and Lawler aren’t given yet another reprieve. They seem to be highly protected species. Have we any evidence about who is protecting them – that is apart from the extremely exclusive, privileged and politically powerful H.R. Nicholls Society.

  4. If I was an untrusting type I would think this an asset shift prior to declaring bankruptcy in case the civil case demands restitution
    Bugga it Wixxy,this brings out my untrusting side

  5. Love this latest instalment in the ongoing saga of Jacksongate! I really hope she gets some serious time behind bars to pay for her ripping off the workers.

  6. Although Australian Fair Work Commission (FWC) Vice-President Michael Lawler might have been a sensible, even obvious, promising candidate for appointment to the Commission in October 2002, there are now strong grounds for believing that perhaps he no longer deserves to retain his appointment. There are strong grounds for believing that perhaps Michael Lawler no longer deserves his current status and position as a publicly paid quasi-judicial official enjoying job tenure for life at a salary of $435,000 per annum – a position he cannot be removed from except by vote of the Australian Parliament. In no small measure, Michael Lawler appears to have failed completely to live up to the promise and trust placed in him by those who appointed him. He also appears to have failed to live up to the ideals embodied in the FWC Member Code of Conduct that appears on the Commission’s own website:


    It seems that the single biggest cause of Michael Lawler’s possible failure has been his more than close relationship with former Health Services Union (HSU) Secretary, Kathy Jackson. It is not so much the relationship with Jackson per se (a relationship that has variously been described as “partner”, “de facto”, “fiancée” and even “husband”) that has contributed to Lawler’s apparent fall from grace. Rather, it was Lawler’s decision to entwine himself so vigorously and so completely into Jackson’s civil (and possibly pending criminal) litigation regarding the alleged misuse of $1.4 million of HSU member funds. At the very least, such entanglement has created the perception of a conflict of interest should future matters involving the HSU be determined by Vice President Lawler. Even before the legalities have been fully resolved, it is clear that Lawler, in his capacity as FWC vice president, has a discernible, if not clear-cut, case to answer in relation to failing to uphold the FWC Member Code of Conduct.

    Section 3 of the Code deals with the “guiding principles” applying to Member conduct:

    “The principles applicable to Member conduct have three main objectives:
    • to uphold public confidence in the Commission and in the administration of justice
    • to enhance public respect for the Commission, and
    • to protect the reputation of individual Members and of the Commission as a whole.”

    In light of recent public revelations, it is difficult to see how Michael Lawler could claim to have met these three objectives. Persistent and detailed recent public disclosures in mainstream media as well as private blogsites have done nothing to uphold public confidence in the FWC or the administration of justice generally. The disclosures have certainly not enhanced public respect for the FWC, or protected the reputation of individual Members or the Commission as a whole. Indeed, a rapidly growing number of people now talk about Lawler (and by implication the FWC) in derisory and pejorative terms. Many members of the public are opening expressing hostility and disgust at the seemingly boundless greed of Michael Lawler and his partner, Kathy Jackson. People are also expressing strong anger at the apparently continuing flagrant abuse of legal process, and the associated massive drain this has on the public purse. Added to this, is the growing feeling of frustration that no-one in authority seems to be willing or able to step in and put a stop to Lawler’s allegedly disgraceful conduct.

    Section 4.3(i) of the Code deals with the integrity and personal behaviour of Members generally.

    “Members are entitled to exercise the rights and freedoms available to all citizens. It is in the public interest that Members participate in the life and affairs of the community, so that they remain in touch with the community.

    On the other hand, appointment as a Member brings with it some limitations on private and public conduct. By accepting an appointment, a Member agrees to accept those limitations.

    These two general considerations have to be borne in mind in considering the duty of a Member to uphold the status and reputation of the Commission, and to avoid conduct that diminishes public confidence in, and respect for, the Member’s office.”

    Michael Lawler has, from the very beginning, entwined himself in the questionable union and legal affairs of Kathy Jackson and others. He has represented Jackson in Court in her battle against her former union, the HSU. He has been actively and closely involved in running and controlling the multi-million dollar estate of 83-year old dementia sufferer and retired barrister David Rofe QC. Using funds from the $30 million Rofe estate, and the Enduring Power of Attorney he held, Lawler purchased a sprawling country property for the elderly dementia sufferer – a property next door to Jackson’s own residential country property. He also negotiated highly dubious, questionable and expensive financial arrangements involving Nicholas Llewelyn, a former protégé of David Rofe. Much of Lawler’s activity in these matters occurred while he was on extended and fully paid leave from his Commission duties. Lawler’s most recent foray into the legal manoeuvrings of Kathy Jackson has been to purchase her $1.8 million home in a private transaction. This was done in an apparent effort to thwart the HSU’s efforts to freeze Jackson’s personal assets ahead of the imminent civil case against Jackson in the Federal Court. Lawler and Jackson are allegedly now living in David Rofe’s country property – supposedly paying a market rent. And Michael Lawler is also reportedly paying some of Jackson’s considerable legal costs.

    All in all, it is difficult to see how the various activities undertaken by Lawler, when considered collectively, could possibly be reconciled with the obligation of Members to uphold the status and reputation of the Commission. Lawler appears to have paid little heed to his obligation to avoid conduct that diminishes public confidence in, and respect for, his office. He certainly does not appear to have accepted that his appointment as an FWC Member brings with it some limitations on private and public conduct.

    Section 4.3(iv) of the Code deals specifically with the private activities of Members.

    “Opinions about the private conduct or activities of a Member may vary but the cardinal concern for each Member should be to ensure conformity with the objectives and principles set out in section 3 of this guide. Considerable care should be exercised to avoid using the authority and status of a Member’s office for private purposes.

    In relation to the use of the Member’s title, care should be taken not to create an impression that a Member’s name, title or status is being used to suggest in some way that preferential treatment might be desired or that the status of the office is being used to seek some advantage, whether for the Member or for someone else.”

    In light of his conduct to date, it is difficult to conclude that conformity with the objectives of Section 3 of the Code of Conduct has been of even passing concern, let alone of “cardinal concern”, to Michael Lawler. Furthermore, there is some publicly available evidence suggesting Lawler might have deliberately used the authority and status of his office for private purposes. At the very least, Lawler’s actions appear to give the impression that his name, title or status might have been used to secure personal advantage for him and/or his partner, Kathy Jackson. When Michael Lawler accepted David Rofe’s Enduring Power of Attorney, he needed to first obtain the approval of the Guardianship Division of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Earlier this year, in one of several published articles on the Rofe estate matter, journalist Brad Norington wrote:

    “By June 2013, Lawler had successfully argued that, given his judicial standing and experience, he was absolutely the right person to be financial manager of Rofe’s $30m fortune with an enduring power of attorney.”

    Taken at face value, this passage certainly suggests Lawler was not averse to using position as a quasi-judicial officer to further his personal affairs. And it should be remembered that subsequent to Lawler accepting Rofe’s Power of Attorney, Lawler’s life partner, Kathy Jackson, became involved in the direct administration of the $30 million Rofe estate. Jackson was reported as being named executor of one of the elderly dementia sufferer David Rofe’s multiple wills. Indeed, in that particular will Jackson was made a beneficiary of Rofe’s estate to the tune of $3 million. It is an interesting point to ponder whether Michael Lawler stood to gain personal reward or benefit in that situation.

    In my view, Michael Lawler’s continuing tenure as Vice President of the FWC is a national disgrace, and a stain on the Fair Work Commission itself. Lawler’s enjoyment of extended periods of fully-paid leave for unspecified purposes is also a slap in the face for the many hardworking employees and other Members of the Commission.

  7. yes,this all needs to be in one book. And can’t suspicious transactions of property be reversed? they can be in bankruptcy cases.

  8. JB, that is an outstanding post. And the bottom line is that judicial or even quasi-judicial power cannot be abused in this country without seriously damaging the institutions they serve. If he will not stand aside himself, he must be set aside by whatever remains of any decent politicians in this country. Let’s see if there are any.

  9. Curious how the vile personal attacks on Gillian Triggs flow from so many government mouths because she is doing her statutory independent job properly and with great courage not tailoring the Human Rights Commission reports to their political needs ‘they have lost confidence in her’ Even the laughingly called independent speaker of the upper house attacked her with a well rehearsed diatribe her on Q&A. The Appointments who should be dismissed are Micheal Lawler and Bronwyn Bishop because they are unable to perform their statutory ‘independent roles’ without using extreme political partisan bias and in one case perhaps breaking the law.

  10. Thank you, JB. Fascinating and disturbing. Two questions remain:
    Can anything be done about Lawler?
    Will anything be done about Lawler?

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